|Battle Cry||"We are the Emperor's pride. Hear us roar!"|
|Founding||Sometime in the 38th Millennium|
|Successors of||Imperial Fists|
|Strength||Less than 95, rebuilding|
|Specialty||Messing with the Inquisition, flanking tactics|
|Colours||Gold, with blue helmet and pauldrons.|
"Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults, whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse."
- – The Bible, Proverbs 9:7 (New International Version)
The Celestial Lions (calling them "Celestial Loins" would be a joke in poor taste, given their tremendous losses of late) are a chapter of Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They are an object lesson of what happens to people who try and mess with the Inquisition without serious backup (like being a First Founding chapter). It is unknown if the Inquisition is going to survive the return object lesson of what happens to those who fuck with the Space Marines. Especially Space Marines who are now best-buds with the Black Templars. Especially especially since Space Marines are each faaaaaar more intelligent than even the most brilliant of Inquisitors. Anything the Inquisition can think of or do, the Space Marines would have thought of and prepared for before the Inquisitor's great-great-great-great grandparents were born. They're not stupid, and that is why Astartes are scary as fuck and conquered the galaxy against things arguably far more powerful than themselves and far more numerous.
The Celestial Lions are a very brotherly, compassionate chapter with a prominent African spin on their culture, whose fraternal nature comes from the fact that they only recruit from the warrior tribes of the world Elysium IX. As they all come from a culture that values community, legacy, and courage, all the Lions hold those values as paramount. More than most other chapters, their world's culture holds sway in their conduct. The Lions are very informal to those within their own ranks, with even basic battle brothers talking to their superiors as brothers and equals, though they are disciplined on the battlefield and they show great respect to the officers of other forces, particularly the other sons of Dorn. Another quirk of their chapter culture is the value they place on storytelling and the great respect they give to talented storytellers. Within their chapter it is common for a squad to gather and tell stories of their heroes and their own exploits before an engagement. If an outsider is present in one of their ships or bases the visitor is expected to pay for their "food and fire" by telling a story from their own people's legends or that individuals exploits and as such they love serving alongside guardsman for the stories they tell. Though they are very different from their typical grim cousin chapters, they are proud sons of Dorn through and through. Most of this can be inferred from the short story in the Helsreach book.
Clash with the Inquisition
The Celestial Lions came into conflict with the Inquisition during the pacification of the world Khattar. Khattar was a Shrine World with a large, faithful population. When the upper echelons of the priesthood fell into worship of the Ruinous Powers an Inquisitor Lord by the name of Apollyon (which is the Greek equivalent of "Destroyer" ie. Abaddon) called for an Imperial Navy blockade of the world in addition to Astartes support, a call that the Celestial Lions answered. After months of brutal fighting the Celestial Lions managed to cut the head off the local heretic priests and with that, the world's population lost the will to fight and surrendered to the Astartes. As the Lions were withdrawing, Inquisitor Apollyon decided that since the priesthood had been corrupt, the surrendering and repentant civilian population must also be corrupt, so he ordered Exterminatus on the planet. The Lions were not fucking amused. After Apollyon refused to be held accountable for the senseless massacre, saying it was necessary, the Lions sent a Strike Cruiser with a delegation of Deathspeakers and Warleaders (Chaplains and Captains, respectively) to Holy Terra with the intention of entreating the High Lords of Terra to call the Inquisition to task over what they'd done. The ship was discovered two years later in Ork-controlled space, with nobody left alive in it and nowhere even close to its intended destination.
Third War for Armageddon
Fast-forward to the Third War for Armageddon. The entire chapter was deployed to a single hive, and thanks to spectacularly bad intelligence they ended up outnumbered, unsupported, and taking heavy losses at every battle, culminating in a mission in which the supposedly inactive Gargants they were sent to destroy proved to have been lying in wait for them along with several Ork warbands backing them up- all of which had apparently been warned of the Lions' planned attack some time beforehand. Matters came to a head when "Ork snipers" managed to take out most of the survivors (especially the Apothecaries), and their last Apothecary was found dead next to the Chapter's last Land Raider (having been shot through the head with a lasgun at point blank range and the gene-seed he was carrying stolen), leaving them without any means to recover the gene-seed from their fallen. The remaining 95 Lions realized that they had been marked for death and decided that they would fight off all the Orks on Armageddon or die trying, and contacted Chaplain Grimaldus of the Black Templars to administer their last rites, but he insisted that the remainder of the Chapter could still restore its honour (and thus be allowed to leave) by slaying the warlord leading the Ork forces in the area. To support his weakened cousins Grimaldus used his influence as the 'Hero of Helsreach' to get support from several regiments of Imperial Guard. While much of the remaining forces of the Celestial Lions were wiped out in the attack, they were successful in redeeming themselves when Ekene Dubaku killed the Orkish Warlord with Grimaldus's help. The Inquisition abandoned their campaign against the remaining Lion's as the lesson had been thoroughly learnt and the Black Templars were now aware of it. Ekene, the Lion's only surviving Pride Leader (i.e. Squad Sergeant) was then named the new Chapter Master and given a couple of parting gifts by High Marshal Helbrecht himself: a suit of relic Imperial Fists power armor dating back to the Great Crusade along with a matching Relic Blade and the Strike Cruiser Blade of the Seventh Son.
The Lions are now working to rebuild with the help of a temporary detachment of Black Templar specialists, including some apothecaries and techmarines. Though it'll be hard considering there's less than ninety-five of them left, another Imperial Fists successor chapter recovered from near-extinction in less than a century after being reduced to 12 Marines in total. Plus, while the Inquisition may get away with bullying later-founded chapters, it would be tantamount to suicide for anyone to mess with the largest space marine
legion chapter excluding the Dark Angels. Of course, the Inquisition oh-so foolishly forgot that the other Chapters, especially within their legion, would want to know what the hell happened anyway. Either way, messing with any Space Marine Chapter is the single dumbest thing you can do. Ever. As a certain Craftworld learned. Being an Inquisitor also won't help you because anyone you could go to for help views the Astartes as semi-divine beings and would execute the Inquisitor rather than help them.
With the Indomitus Crusade going on. It's more than likely Guilliman sent some Primaris Marines to rebuild the Lions. This seems to be backed up by the fact that ADB is writing a book about an allied chapter, the Emperor's Spears, receiving Primaris reinforcements. One member of the chapter was also able to serve in the Deathwatch, implying they had the latitude to spare a marine.
Unfortunately though, the novel Spear of the Emperor states that Ekene Dubaku was assassinated by a Callidus posing as a servant of some guy from the Mentor Legion. Nobody expects the Inquisition indeed. Of course, this means the Inquisition and Officio Assassinorum have dishonored and therefore majorly pissed off yet another Chapter and the Black Templars. Someone needs to remind them that the last time that happened, the result was that the Assassinorum only still exists because the Space Marines allowed them to. For all their skill at hiding their bases and everything, the Astartes still found them and murdered the fuck out of them. It seems the lesson didn't stick. Not a problem.
- "Ork Snipers" has since become slang for Vindicare assassins, or more generally for any implausible cover story for an Inquisition action.
- You know who else have golden armour, blue details and star patterns? Hammers of Sigmar. Funny, huh?
- Blue glitter paint, or clear glitter over blue, is much easier than painting individual stars.
- Also, "Ekene Dubaku" (Emperor rest his soul) is a badass as fuck name.
- They love catnip